International Students

Employment Based on Economic Hardship Application

International students who have been in F-1 status for one full academic year and are experiencing economic hardship due to unforeseen events may be eligible to apply for employment authorization due to economic hardship.

F-1 students granted such work authorization will be able to work off- campus for no more than 20 hours a week during the time school is in session and full time (40 hours a week) during vacation.

The application may take up to 90 days and approval is not guaranteed.

Employment cannot be started until the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is received. Once the Employment Authorization Document is received there are no restrictions on the place of work; employment does not have to relate to the field of study.

Economic Hardship Application Steps

  1. Discuss eligibility with International Student Services Coordinator.

  2. Submit the following documentation:

    1. New I-20 with recommendation for Employment Authorization Document with original signatures (DSO and student)

    2. A letter from the student explaining in detail explaining that severe economic hardship was caused by circumstances out of student’s control. The letter needs to be supported with any documentation that shows that the economic hardship occurred after the student arrived in the United States and its unforeseen character.

    3. Form I-765 with item 16 marked as “(c) (3) (iii)” and fee of $380 payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    4. A copy of form I-94 (front and back).

    5. A copy of passport showing the picture, name and date of birth; a visa issued by a foreign consulate

    6. Two identical color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of application. Using pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name on the back of the photo. The photos should be:

      • printed on photo quality paper,
      • 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size,
      • sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head,
      • taken in front of a plain white or off-white background, and
      • your head must be bear unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order of which you are a member.
  3. E-file or send the OPT packet to the following address. Make sure that the form and the address are current at

    For U.S. Postal Service:
    P.O. Box 21281
    Phoenix, AZ 85036

    For Express mail and courier deliveries:
    1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
    Suite 100
    Phoenix, AZ 85034

  4. One of three things may happen after you file your OPT packet.

    1. The request is approved. If the request for employment is approved, the student will receive Employment Authorization Document in the mail and start employment.

    2. The USCIS requests more information. In case USCIS needs more information on the case, they will send a request for evidence (RFE).

    3. The request is denied. If the request for employment is denied, the USCIS will send the student a letter explaining the reason for employment ineligibility. There is no formal appeal for a denial, but the student can file the motion to reopen or reconsider the decision if there is a valid reason.

International Student Services


Marina Durinova
Hawkeye Center 208
telephone (voice):
    +1 319-296-2329, ext.1590
   +1 319-296-1028
Email me

Mailing Address

Hawkeye Community College
International Student Admissions
1501 East Orange Road
P.O. Box 8015
Waterloo, IA 50704-8015